San­ders De­tails Eco­nomic Agenda for Amer­ica

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM - Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Sen.Bernie San­ders (I-Vt.) yes­ter­day out­lined a pro­gres­sive eco­nomic agenda to re­verse a 40-year de­cline of the Amer­i­can mid­dle class and the grow­ing gap be­tween the very rich and ev­ery­one else in the United States.

In a Se­nate floor speech, San­ders de­tailed mea­sures to cre­ate mil­lions of new jobs, raise wages, pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment and pro­vide health care for all. He said the most sig­nif­i­cant ques­tion fac­ing the Amer­i­can peo­ple is: “Are we pre­pared to take on the enor­mous eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal power of the bil­lion­aire class or do we con­tinue to slide into eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal oli­garchy?”

The col­lapse of the mid­dle class, ac­cel­er­ated by the Wall Street crash of 2008, has left the United States with more wealth and in­come in­equal­ity than any ma­jor coun­try and the high­est rate of child­hood poverty. “To­day, mil­lions of Americans are work­ing longer hours for lower wages,” he said. In in­fla­tion-ad­justed dol­lars, the me­dian male worker earned $783 less last year than he made 41 years ago. The me­dian fe­male worker made $1,337 less last year than she earned in 2007. Since 1999, house­hold in­come for the me­dian mid­dle-class fam­ily is less than it was a quar­ter cen­tury ago.

“We once led the world in terms of the per­cent­age of our peo­ple who grad­u­ated col­lege, but we are now in 12th place. Our in­fra­struc­ture, once the envy of the world, is col­laps­ing. Real un­em­ploy­ment to­day is not 5.8 per­cent, it is 11.5 per­cent if we in­clude those who have given up look­ing for work or who are work­ing part time when they want to work full time. Youth un­em­ploy­ment is 18.6 per­cent and AfricanAmer­i­can youth un­em­ploy­ment is 32.6 per­cent,” San­ders said. San­ders de­tailed a 12-point eco­nomic pro­gram to: Invest in our crum­bling in­fra­struc­ture with a ma­jor pro­gram to cre­ate jobs by re­build­ing roads, bridges, wa­ter sys­tems, waste wa­ter plants, air­ports, rail­roads and schools. Trans­form en­ergy sys­tems away from fos­sil fu­els to cre­ate jobs while be­gin­ning to re­verse global warm­ing and make the planet hab­it­able for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. De­velop new eco­nomic mod­els to support work­ers in the United States in­stead of giv­ing tax breaks to cor­po­ra­tions which ship jobs to low-wage coun­tries over­seas. Make it eas­ier for work­ers to join unions and bar­gain for higher wages and ben­e­fits. Raise the fed­eral min­i­mum wage from $7.25 an hour so no one who works 40 hours a week will live in poverty. Pro­vide equal pay for women work­ers who now make 78 per­cent of what male coun­ter­parts make. Re­form trade poli­cies that have shut­tered more than 60,000 fac­to­ries and cost more than 4.9 mil­lion de­cent-pay­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs. Make col­lege af­ford­able and pro­vide af­ford­able child care to re­store Amer­ica’s com­pet­i­tive edge com­pared to other na­tions. Break up big banks. The six largest banks now have as­sets equiv­a­lent to 61 per­cent of our gross do­mes­tic prod­uct, over $9.8 tril­lion. They un­der­write more than half the mort­gages in the coun­try and is­sue more than two-thirds of all credit cards. Join the rest of the in­dus­tri­al­ized world with a Medi­care-for-all health care sys­tem that pro­vides bet­ter care at less cost. Ex­pand So­cial Se­cu­rity, Medi­care, Med­i­caid and nu­tri­tion pro­grams. Re­form the tax code based on wage earn­ers’ abil­ity to pay and elim­i­nate loop­holes that let prof­itable cor­po­ra­tions stash prof­its over­seas and pay no U.S. fed­eral in­come taxes.

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